A lot of little lifestyle decisions can have a big impact on overall health. Taking the stairs for two minutes, choosing to grill rather than fry your food or refusing that extra glass of wine can all add up to a longer life.
Given the importance of these small choices, some are wondering whether they should give up their morning cup of coffee in favor of green tea. The evidence on green tea’s benefits is still developing, and we don’t know if it’s the healthier choice. But if you’re looking to make the switch, there is some information that might push you over the bean-leaf divide.
A specific catechin known as EGCG exists almost exclusively in green tea, according to Howard D. Sesso, an associate professor at Harvard and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He specializes in researching how diet, particularly flavonoids, can affect health.
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There is some evidence suggesting that green tea helps reduce heart health risk factors, such as by decreasing lipids and lowering blood pressure, but the trials were small and not lengthy enough to show that the tea reduced cardiovascular disease. Sesso said the outcomes are still undetermined, and “they shouldn’t really be translated to disease prevention.”
Establishing a link to green tea would require a years-long clinical trial in which people were randomly assigned to one group or another, with one group drinking green tea and another a placebo tea. Even with a trial like that, “the logistics can be challenging,” Sesso said. It would be difficult to ensure that the group assigned to drink green tea daily was complying.
So, should I switch to green tea?
If all this leaves you still wondering if green tea is good for you, the larger studies do share one conclusion: it does not appear to be harmful. Sesso has a pragmatic approach. “If it’s something you enjoy, then you should have it. A cup or two of green tea with a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables is great.”
As for Sesso, while he thinks there’s some potential to protect health, he personally doesn’t drink either green tea or coffee.